Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Pandora: Prince Harry tackles 'Whispering Witchell'

After 10 years following the Royal Family's every move, Nicholas Witchell must be yearning for a new post.

In 2005, the BBC's likeable royal reporter faced the insult of being "dissed" by the Prince of Wales during Charles's annual ski tip to Klosters.

"These bloody people. I can't bear that man," he was heard mumbling to his two sons. "I mean, he's so awful, he really is."

This week, Witchell also found himself singled out while following Prince Harry on his trip to the African kingdom of Lesotho. The prince, who is helping to rebuild a special-needs school with his charity Sentebale, decided to start up a game of football during a break.

Much to the amusement of other reporters, he was determined to get stuck in to Witchell on the pitch.

"He ran up to Nick and started yelling: 'Where are your trainers? Where are your trainers? C'mon, you're playing,'" I'm told. "Nick politely turned the offer down."

Witchell tells me he was too busy to play as he had to interview Sentebale's director, Harper Brown.

Meanwhile, Harry finally got his chance to lock horns with the third estate. Yesterday, The Sun printed a picture of him ungraciously flashing "loser" signs at the red-top's royal hack, Duncan Larcombe.

Bruno riles the rednecks

Not for the first time, Sacha Baron Cohen has sparked rioting in middle America. Locals in Arkansas were recently lured to a blue-collar brawling night with the promise of beer, "hot chicks" and "hardcore fights".

Instead, the evening ended with two men tearing each other's clothes off and kissing one another. Some of the, how shall we say, less modern-minded punters responded by throwing chairs and beer around the joint.

The stunt is suspected to have been a set-up intended to form part of Baron Cohen's forthcoming "documentary" involving one of his alter-egos, the gay "fashion expert" Bruno.

Testing Times

Times editor James Harding has come up with a novel way of winning over his reshuffled team: homework. As part of the paper's exam coverage, several of its writers have agreed to sit A-levels. Mary Ann Sieghart will take theory of knowledge; political commentator Peter Riddell and Berlin correspondent Roger Boyes will sit politics and German respectively. Harding will lead by example, taking the much-maligned media studies exam himself.

Dave uses his loaf

David Cameron was approached by a fellow reveller at the recent Cornbury music festival in Oxfordshire.

"Don't I recognise you from somewhere?" asked the festival-goer.

"Er, possibly, don't know," replied the Conservative leader.

"I've got it," said the man. "You're the bloke from the baker's in Chipping Norton."

Valerie's dolce vita

Good to see that life has been treating Baroness Amos well since she left the Government last year.

Pandora caught the Labour peer leaving the launch of June Sarpong's new website, Politics and the City, hopping into a chauffeur-driven Bentley Continental which bore the flashy personalised number plate VS6.

"It doesn't belong to me – it's a friend's," she said mysteriously, before speeding off into the London night.

No Roman expansion in Gaul

Another day, another rumour does the rounds claiming that Roman Abramovich is adding to his bulging property portfolio.

The latest "for sale" sign reported to have caught the Russian billionaire's eye is La Leopolda, the multi-millionaire philanthropist Lily Safra's spectacular pad in the south of France reportedly available for a snip at £250m.

"Absolutely, positively, not true," insists Abramovich's spokesman from Moscow. "He already owns a house in France, why would he want another one?"

With any other tycoon, I'd say that was a fair point.

But considering we're talking about someone who allegedly owns a fleet of five superyachts and employs four of the world's best central midfielders to play for one football team, it's always worth asking.